Monday, October 10, 2022

Q&A with Deborah Lee Rose and Jane Veltkamp


Deborah Lee Rose



Deborah Lee Rose and Jane Veltkamp are the authors of the new children's picture book Swoop and Soar: How Science Rescued Two Osprey Orphans and Found Them a New Family in the Wild. Rose, a children's book author, and Veltkamp, founding director of Birds of Prey Northwest, also collaborated on the book Beauty and the Beak.


Q: How did the two of you end up working on this new book together?


A: We had such a fantastic experience writing Beauty and the Beak together, about Janie’s work to engineer a 3D-printed, prosthetic beak for Beauty the bald eagle.


Janie rescues many different species of raptors, including eagles, owls, hawks, falcons, and ospreys. More and more often, all these birds of prey are impacted by severe weather—like Hurricane Fiona and Hurricane Ian—and climate change, just as humans are.


Janie’s true rescue of Swoop and Soar after a major storm AND her finding these orphaned osprey chicks a new wild nest and family were very rare. We knew this book would be an inspiring story to tell for children, and there is no other book like it.

Jane Veltkamp

Janie’s tremendous knowledge of raptor biology and her decades of real experience handling raptors in the wild were both critical to relocating the baby ospreys to a new nest. There was no guarantee they would be accepted by the new osprey parents, but Janie took every step she could to increase the chances.


Through observations Janie knew that the new parents had lost their own chicks in the same storm. This made them potential “adoptive” parents, but Janie knew the new parents could lose interest in their nest three to five days after their own chicks had disappeared. So Janie was in a race against time to put Swoop and Soar into the new nest before the new parents would fly away forever.


Q: How were you able to tell the chicks’ whole life story photographically?


A: Janie had made sure to get great photos of Swoop and Soar from the time she came into their lives. To capture the chicks’ experiences before that—as well as to depict Janie’s work with other ospreys, and spotlight ospreys as a species—we were so lucky to use fantastic osprey photos from multiple wildlife photographers in Maine, New Jersey, Georgia, Florida, and more.


Q: Do you know how Swoop and Soar are doing now?


A: They have likely completed their first two-year migration away, and may have now returned to near where they learned to fly, to build their first nests. Janie has seen a brand new nest right near the nest over the dock where she put the orphaned chicks. It’s very possible that this new nest is either Swoop’s first nest or Soar’s first nest.


Q: What do you hope kids take away from the book?


A: We want kids not to lose hope, whether it’s about the environment or other challenges in their lives. When things look dismal or become very difficult, we can always look to science and technology to help us figure out new answers and ways to deal with challenges of all kinds.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: Swoop and Soar includes a major portion on ospreys as a species, what environmental threats they face today, and how people can help protect them. One very important thing kids and adults can do now is to clean up plastic pollution, so that ospreys don’t bring back plastic to their nests where both adult and baby birds can get dangerously tangled.


Swoop and Soar also tells a lot about the work of scientists, including Janie, who helped reintroduce this species after it was devastated by the bug killer DDT, and who are working to conserve ospreys today.


We want kids’ eyes and minds to be opened to how important science is in protecting this species and our entire environment. The harm that DDT did to ospreys was a warning signal of potential harm to humans. Our efforts today to keep ospreys safe from chemicals and other threats are part of keeping humans safe as well.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Deborah Lee Rose and Jane Veltkamp.

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